Stories related to "My Cause".


A World of Growth for Small Businesses

I discovered Grow Movement shortly after business school. I was seeking to volunteer as a mentor and contribute toward developing economies. Grow enabled me to use knowledge gained from Booth along with my professional experience. Having worked in private equity [Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch], I had some idea about the attributes of successful entrepreneurs and the elements needed to build a business. After studying several proposals, I decided to work with Martial Batangana, a 24-year-old entrepreneur in Rwanda. His ambition was to build a mobile platform that would provide agricultural advice to local farmers and connect them with regional buyers. Batangana was highly motivated and technically savvy, but I saw that his business needed a framework—it was a matter of planning activities and organizing resources. For six months, I spent two to four hours a week, often on a weekday evening or a Sunday afternoon, communicating with him via email and Skype. Through his deep local and industrysector knowledge, he had identified a need in his home country. I drew on my knowledge of marketing,


Soar Winner

Having a biology teacher for a father has its perks. “As a kid, I always enjoyed going into the classroom and putting a snake around my neck,” said Louise Shimmel, ’77, executive director of the Cascades Raptor Center in Eugene, Oregon. Watching her father rehabilitate injured tortoises and bobcat kittens left a lasting impression on Shimmel. “I really credit him with my deep and abiding respect for animals.” This respect grounds Shimmel’s work at the center, which helps rescue more than 300 animals per year. The center also creates teachable moments for the 30,000 visitors who come each year to see the 50 birds of prey on site, including eagles, hawks, owls, ospreys, vultures, and falcons.


At Home, Abroad

Kendra Mirasol, ’93, had one major goal while growing up in Janesville, Wisconsin. “I remember always wanting to get out,” she said. She studied German in high school and moved across country for college at the University of California, Irvine. During college, Mirasol worked in a hotel in Lindenberg, a small Bavarian mountain town. “They spoke zero English,” she says. “It was so fantastic for exposure learning. You had to sink or swim.” After graduation, in 1989, just before the Berlin Wall fell, Mirasol lived in Kranichfeld, East Germany. She stayed with a pen pal whose family struggled to get by under Communist rule. “They were basket weavers—they got paid $1 per basket.” While attempting to leave the country, she was interrogated at the border for three hours because she forgot to file the correct paperwork at the police station. <br/>“Those are exciting experiences,” said Mirasol, now president of IOR Global Services, a global mobility and talent development solutions company. Without work- and study-abroad programs, she said, “My life would be so boring.” Mirasol came to Chicago Booth to supplement her German literature and language background with business acumen. She was able to maintain a global perspective during her interactions with international students. Mirasol could tell that a good friend of hers from Japan struggled to adapt to the direct, unfiltered mode of classroom discussion favored by some American classmates. “It was so difficult for him to even contribute one idea,” she recalled. “He was probably the smartest man in the school, and when I saw that happening, I felt I had a responsibility to facilitate.” These types of cross-cultural support are needed every day, around the world, on a personal level, and in boardrooms. In April 2016, Mirasol’s passion for international exchange—and for the broader benefits of a global economy—motivated her to accept a volunteer role on the board of directors at the nonprofit Cultural Vistas. <br/>


Mathletes in Training

Andrew Van Fossen, ’06, clearly remembers winning second place in a regional high-school math competition. It was a big moment in his life, equivalent to making the all-state basketball team. But unlike the sports stars at his school, Van Fossen returned to school to nothing, not cheering, not a parade or pep rally, not even a decorated locker. “No one cared,” says Van Fossen, now 40, who lives just outside Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kathryn Van Fossen, ’07, and their two children, aged 3 and 6.


A Personal Connection

During her keynote address at the 2015 Booth Women Connect Conference, Joyce Frost (on Twitter at @JFrostNYC) shared a piece of advice that has guided her like a beacon: “Follow your heart and see where your skill set can make a difference.” Easter always meant assembling baskets at her father’s Lions Club in her hometown of Chicago, she says, and after moving to New York, she pitched in with a nascent volunteer group, New York Cares. It’s now the city’s largest volunteer management organization, serving more than 400,000 at-risk New Yorkers, and Frost serves as secretary of its board of trustees. A passionate advocate for charter schools, Frost is also founding board chair and current vice president of Bronx Charter School for Excellence, and chair of the board of directors for Friends of Bronx Charter School for Excellence. Learn more at newyorkcares.org and bronxexcellence.org.


Girls Will Be Entrepreneurs

Sharon Burns Choksi, ’98, had always struggled to find clothes she liked for her young daughter. She cringed and her daughter sighed as they walked past an endless number of shirts with only things like “sparkly kittens and dainty butterflies” on the front, she said. Maya, then 4 years old, loved trucks and baseball, but they could never find anything like that in the girls’ section. Instead, they encountered shirts emblazoned with phrases like “cutie pie,” “born to shop,” and “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother does it for me!” <br/>“One day, Maya turned to me and asked, ‘Mom, why do boys get all the cool stuff?’ Right then, I thought, ‘I’ll kick myself if I don’t try and do something about this,’” said Choksi. “If a 4-year-old girl was already absorbing that message, something was terribly wrong. Since the big retailers weren’t showing any signs of changing, I decided I had to try and create more positive options for girls.”


Giving the Green Light

Thirteen years, three green card applications, and multiple near-ulcer experiences after entering the United States for college, Maneesha Mukhi, '09, finally gained permanent US resident status. It was an eye-opening experience for Mukhi—the process had included several different visas, many transfers, and the constant looming threat of losing her status. <br/>"I realized that there was a big hole: immigration information online was sparse and often inaccurate. Government sites were hard to decipher-they are not written for the average human, and I couldn't find a reliable way to find an attorney," said Mukhi. So as soon as her green card status was secured, she was determined to help pave the way for others. <br/>The daughter of an Indian diplomat, Mukhi was born in France and moved every three years until she started college. She loved experiencing new cultures everywhere she landed-but from a young age, she planned to make it to the United States.


Socially Conscious Networking

When images of a drowned Syrian toddler on a Turkish beach made global news in September 2015, the Syrian refugee crisis hit home for Megan Morgan, ’06. “As a mom myself,” Morgan said, “my heart ached to see that suffering.” Morgan—the Chicago-based head of equity and index sales for the Americas at the derivatives exchange Eurex—began searching for ways to help Syrian refugees. Seeing news footage of refugee parents carrying their children, Morgan recalled the importance of her stroller when she traveled around Europe with her young son. “It was his space where he could nap if he was tired, and it was a luggage rack for me,” Morgan said. “I thought, ‘Their life could be a little bit easier if only they had a stroller.’” <br/>


A Welcoming Home

The companionship of scholars and the thrill of continuous learning are two wonderful aspects of a life in science,” Robert W. Fogel wrote in a short autobiography when he won the 1993 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. “When one is engaged with students who are both very curious and very bright, it is never quite clear who is teaching whom.” That passion for engaging with students stood at the core of the Fogel Dinner, one of the enduring legacies of the late Nobel laureate and longtime Booth professor, and his wife, Enid M. Fogel, the onetime associate dean of students at Booth. Together, they hosted the first Fogel Dinner in 1982 to welcome minority students at Booth to the school and the Hyde Park community. Each fall for the next three decades, Bob—as he was known to colleagues and students—and Enid opened the doors of their brownstone on University Avenue. After his wife’s death in 2007, Fogel continued the tradition until he passed away in 2013. <br/>